Mile reached: 1697.1 (+41.2)
High: Reaching the Oregon border and looking back at how far I’d come.
Low: Getting very little sleep before hitting the trail early in the morning.
Editor’s Note: After much reflection, the author would like to clarify that Alicia’s cookies are in fact the best on the trail.
The mosquitoes were so bad, and it was so hot that I couldn’t hide under my quilt. Even then I was still soaked in sweat. I wanted to set up my tent, but I knew it would disturb others around me. In retrospect, I probably should have just left, but I stuck it out until 4 am. Then, I quietly packed up my stuff and snuck out into the pitch black morning.
The trail climbs up a ridge just northwest of town, but there was some debate the night before over if there was a better way out. Namely, there is a forest service road that leaves town and crosses the PCT. The distances are about the same, but it does have it a little less up and down. Since my headlamp is dim, I decided to take the road and not risk dealing with poison oak in the dark. It turned out to be a beautiful route passing through the valley and by local farmhouses. There was also plenty of water and even a waterfall right next to the road.
Once at the ridge with the junction for the PCT, I stopped for a short breakfast. A few minutes later a few other hikers showed up. One of them had taken the road up as well, but then accidentally went southbound for several miles. Oops. They continued on up the ridge, shortly I set off after them.
Despite the forecast predicting a brutally hot day, the weather was beautiful. The partly cloudy sky provided relief from the direct sun, and a light breeze keep it cool. The forest also wasn’t completely burned, so there were beautiful meadows and shade. Since the trail ran on top of a ridge it was relatively dry, and there were a few 7+ mile waterless stretches. Though it’s possible that this was all awful, and I was just dreaming. By this point I was so tired that I was falling asleep as I was hiking.
“Poseidon” caught me just as I was packing up after lunch, and he too complained about getting very little sleep. Though, the big question was, “Are you going to Oregon today?” So, I continued on toward the border with “Poseidon” just a little behind me.
A mile before the border there was an old cabin back from the ranching days, but over the years it had fallen into disrepair. As luck would have it, there was trail magic! The grandson of the rancher, who built it, had decided to restore the cabin, and brought out a group of friends for the weekend. They fed us many hotdogs and cold beer! It was tempting to spend the night. However, “Poseidon” wanted to push on, and I wanted signal.
We came upon the border very quickly. The fact that we had trail magic just before probably changed the experience, because we were already in good spirits. Nevertheless, it felt like an accomplishment. We took a few photos including one to send to Leanne to show that we beat her, but it was starting to rain. So, we wrapped up quickly.
The gentle breeze and light rain made everything feel different. It no longer seemed that we were in California! I stopped on a ridge for a few minutes, and “Poseidon” passed me. I told him that he better not take my campsite, but, of course, he took it. Ultimately, I had to go a mile or so further down the trail in the dark, and after some hunting around I found a small yet passable site.